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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

camp had its allotted task to fulfil in a given time and every commander
was held responsible with his person for getting that work finished, he
would naturally be unwilling to release the stronger men. No questions
would be asked by the higher authorities he knew, if a few hundred Poles
did not return. The Russian bureaucrats were either unable or did not
wish to produce a list containing the names of the Polish citizens whom
they had deported to the Soviet Union. In many parts of the Soviet
Empire, the order to release the Poles was not executed. It is impossible
to state whether this was due to the lack of organisation in the country or to
secret orders issued with the object of placing obstacles in the path of
those who sought to accomplish the release of these people, but something
more than just the difficulty of tracing all these Poles certainly did exist
where the Soviet authorities were concerned.
In his diary, Cazalet endeavoured to find some explanation for the
non-arrival of so many of those deportees :
" The Russians," he wrote, " scattered them about (between a million
and a half and two million men, women and children) in labour camps from
the most northerly point in Russia to the extreme parts of Siberia . . . Some
of them were in camps too far distant even to get the news of their release
until winter had set in. The difficulty of communicating over these vast
areas also prevented the orders being carried out in certain camps for some
time. There are, for instance, still some 25,000 in the province of Archangel
who cannot be released because of transport conditions. There are 5,000
on the island of Nova Zemlya \vho will not be able to get south until late
this summer. There are another 1,000 at least, several hundred miles
beyond Yakutsk, which was the furthest point to which the Tsarist regime
ever sent political prisoners. There are only two months in the year in
this part of Siberia in which communications exist with the rest of the world.
"A great many, of course, have died . . . Many more will die this year."
Eve Curie, in her diary (p. 368) speaks of this indifference or reluctance
on the part of the Russians to release the deportees.
"A young Pole attached to the Embassy told me how he had just been
wandering throughout the immense territories of the U.S.S.R., from one
town to another, looking for his lost compatriots. His work had only
consisted in checking lists of names with Russian officials.
" Whenever I got to a town, I first did the routine work with the local
civil servants. Sometimes I was told there were no Poles on record in that
particular place. Then I would go out in the streets and simply walk and
walk, for miles, for hours, in one street, then in another, then back again.
On my coat I had a very visible badge, bearing the Polish white eagle. One
man in rags, then another, and still another—or maybe woman or child—
would come up to me and timidly address me in Polish. I would ask:
* Are there any other Poles here?" Almost always the answer was * Yes, there
are twenty of us, or fifty, at such and such place.' One day I was thus
warned by sheer chance that three hundred Poles were parked at a railway
station nearby."
The following is an extract from the evidence of Professor N. of the
Lw6w Polytechnic, who had a world-wide reputation as a specialist of
metallurgy. He was a prisoner in the Komi Republic, which lies far
away on the northern outskirts of the Soviet Empire in the sut-arctic
52